People often ask me: “What’s the strangest tech gadget you’ve ever owned?”
Actually, no one has ever asked me that, but I needed a concise lead for this week’s column and it seemed like a catchy one. I’m going with it.
So if someone were to ask about the strangest tech gadget I’ve ever owned, I would show them this.
Yes, you’re looking at a picture of my toilet seat. And yes, I’m going there.
You see, this is no ordinary bowl. It’s the Toto S300 Washlet: a specially heated, perfectly cotoured toilet seat with a built-in bidet that sprays warm, soothing water in all of the right places, if you know what I mean. The fancy model also comes with a remote-controlled touch panel to adjust the water temperature, the spray angles, and the oscillation pulses with amazing precision. The panel even uses clever stick figure drawings of men and women to identify which body parts you’re targeting.
It’s breathtaking. It’s expensive. It’s Japanese. And I absolutely adore it.
I discovered this magical throne while attending my friend Teddy’s wedding in Tokyo. Before that fateful journey, I would have laughed out loud at the very suggestion of throwing my hard-earned money into such a crappy gadget (pun intended). Seriously, most of us view bathroom experiences in the same way as trips to the dentist: get in, get out, do your business with as little fanfare and trouble as possible.
But things are different in the land of the rising sun. The Japanese view toilet paper as a wasteful excess. You’ll rarely find Charmin in restaurants or public bathrooms, so unless you enjoy buying underpants by the metric ton, it’s essential to have a backside-scrubbing plan in effect at all times.
What you will find in Japan are Totos. Lots and lots of them. And from the first moment I sat down, I never wanted to stand up. I was so impressed that when I returned to America, I decided to buy one for my house.
In the years since, my Toto has never let me down. And while a heated, pulsating, remote-controlled toilet seat is certainly not a “must-have” tech item, you’d be surprised how many people own one. It’s almost like a secret society; you meet someone at a dinner party, the conversation starts slowly, and as soon as they mention home renovations, you delicately mention your bathroom…and before long you find yourself bonding with a total stranger, over your mutual love for the Toto.
While we’re on the topic of bathroom technology, here are some other gadgets to enhance your bathing pleasure:
Speaking of TV, if you do install one, you certainly don’t want to get out of the shower every few seconds to change channels. Lots of companies now manufacture simple waterproof remotes, with prices ranging from $25 up to $250, depending on desired level of functionality. These are great gadgets for the bathtub, and a lot cheaper than buying a waterproof TV or tablet. Try the Seal Shield STV5.
Eco-Oto Bathroom Noise App
Ever sat in a public bathroom and been totally grossed out by the horrible sounds you hear? Or mortified by the sounds you make? The Eco-Oto is the digital equivalent of the courtesy flush. Just press a button and this 99-cent phone app instantly broadcasts the sound of a toilet flushing. It plays in 30, 60, 90, or 120-second intervals, which gives you lots of flexibility depending on stomach conditions.
Another piece of wonderful, weird technology from our Japanese friends, who are truly the sensei masters of potty tech.
Calgon, take me away.